Is Talk Therapy Worth It?

Recently I found myself on a website that had a lot of comments about how talk therapy was a waste of time and money.

Well, consider this a response to all those people.

Now, for starters, it’s true that I am biased. I mean, I am a grad student learning to become a psychotherapist after all. Just keeping it honest.

I also lived with severe anxiety and depression for over 10 years, so it isn’t like I don’t know what it’s like to need or undergo therapy myself– been there, done that.

So, here’s the thing: Talk therapy works. And it works well.

I’ve heard a lot of folks say that they’ve gone to therapy and it was a bunch of baloney and to that I say: Could be.

See, not all therapists are good, competent, caring, well-trained, and so on. But neither are a bunch of other people who charge money for their services. Painting any profession with a broad brush, in general, just isn’t fair or smart.

I love how people say things like “She just asked me how I felt all the time… when I just wanted to fix the problem.”

That to me speaks volumes of the kind of misconceptions people have about therapy. Therapy can help you but it doesn’t do it alone. Generally speaking, the person being counseled has to do the heavy lifting. Surprise!

The job of the therapist is to guide you not just toward self-understanding, but also through the process of learning different ways of thinking about your problems and their solutions. Therapy isn’t about magical one time sessions. It is, however, about gaining insight, but it’s also much more than that.

In fact, talk therapy has been shown to be nearly as effective as drug therapy. I say nearly because for certain conditions, like schizophrenia for example, drugs are perhaps the only means of managing the condition.

But when you’re talking about anxiety, depression, obsession, phobias and the like, then therapy is effective. Studies have shown that psychotherapy even has the ability to alter the brain in the same way that drugs do (Friedman, 2002).

It’s thought that this happens because as a person goes through therapy, the things they learn produce new proteins that help to remodel neurons in the brain. Learning  can literally re-wire your brain in this regard.

The things you learn can also be used over and over; they can be adapted, expanded, and combined with drug therapy to enhance the effects of both.

Let’s be clear though, does talk therapy help everyone? You bet it doesn’t, but neither does drug therapy or other modalities.

Gasp! What’s that… there are no guarantees? A big negative to that as well.

The bottom-line is that calling all therapists quacks is not only wrong-headed, it just might limit your options for bettering your situation. I’m also not sure why anyone would take something as potentially helpful as therapy off the table.

The fact is, psychology is studied and practiced at some of the most prestigious universities in the world, testimony from mental health professionals is permissible in a court of law, and to get more to the heart of the matter, thousands upon thousands have been helped by talk therapy in measurable ways.

How measurable? So measurable that the results can be seen on a brain scan; now how’s that for evidence?

Maybe people that take a negative view of therapy do so because they’ve fully prescribed to our microwave-culture: everything done in seconds and without thinking. The problem with that though is that when you have a thinking problem you have to learn to think your way out of it. And, at times, this requires assistance. In my humble opinion.

In the end, if drugs alone did it for you, – sweet! But don’t think for a second that what helped you will also help others. Plus, if you don’t want drugs and think talk therapy is dumb then I guess you’re out of luck! Really? No, of course not.

Be open, be smart, and ultimately do what works for you.

 

 

References:

Friedman, Richard. (2002). Like Drugs, Talk Therapy Can Change Brain Chemistry. Retrieved from:  http://www.jsu.edu/criminaljustice/docs/mellen_drugs.pdf

Barth, F.D. (2010). Does Talk Therapy Really Work? Retrieved from: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-couch/201011/does-talk-therapy-really-work

 

 

 

 

 

What’s the Best Option for Treating Anxiety and Depression?

Today I want to chat a bit about treatment options for anxiety and depression because I’d like to clarify a few things.

And in case you’re strapped for time here is what I want to say: Curing abnormal anxiety and depression has nothing to do with magic, voodoo, or instant anything.

Instead, treating abnormal anxiety and depression involves finding the right mix of remedies that work for you, committing to that treatment, and a little time.

This whole issue of anxiety treatments came up because I recently read a question posted on another website about what might work for treatment resistant anxiety and depression. Good question, I thought.

I know that many of you have tried all kind of things to cure your abnormal anxiety and depression and have been unsuccessful at it.

So today I want to talk about current treatment options and about where we’re at in terms of finding effective cures for these two stubborn conditions.

Now, as we all know, no two people are the same. As a result, no two people will respond to a particular treatment the same way. I say that only to highlight the fact that there is no one size fits all wonder cure. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t exist.

Up to this point in time treatment for anxiety and depression has involved talk therapy, drugs, exercise, meditation, and certain types of diets/foods.

On the extreme end of the spectrum, hard to treat depression has also been treated with things like electroshock therapy, which has proven effective but also comes with severe side effects.

There is also a newish treatment for severe depression called Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) which has proven only marginally effective.

TMS involves blasting your grey matter with electromagnetic pulses (not shocks) in hopes of adjusting your serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrinen levels to help regulate your mood.

Researchers are also exploring the use of ketamine, which is a general anesthetic and tranquilizer, to cure treatment resistant depression. According to recent studies, ketamine works faster than many antidepressants and “Points to a potential whole new family of drugs for treating depression.”

On the anxiety front, Stanford University researchers recently discovered an “anti-anxiety circuit in the brain” that could lead to new treatments. It’s hoped that discovering this fear circuitry will help in the development of new drugs that can “shut off” fear and anxiety.

In short, there really isn’t anything new. Most novel treatments for anxiety and depression are still in the research and development phase. So what are we left with?

Well, we’re left with a whole host of good ole stand by treatments. The trick is finding the one (or two) that work for you.

The person that asked about what treatments are available said that he didn’t want to hear about talk therapy, drugs, exercise, herbs and the like. He said he’d tried all that and it didn’t work.

You know, I empathize with him. I can understand that level of frustration but, I would also warn against throwing out the old methods of treatment altogether.

Simply because it seemed as if he were asking for something that doesn’t exist yet, namely a fail proof treatment for anxiety and depression. We just don’t have that right now.

What we’re left with is talk therapy, drugs and all the rest of it, essentially all the stuff he said he didn’t want to hear about.

He said he’d also tried multiple psychiatrists and that failed too.

I can believe that because I know it can take awhile to find a solution, therapist, or whatever that speaks to you and your particular brand of anxiety or depression.

However, that doesn’t change the fact that you have to keep trying new treatments after trying ones that have failed.

Is trial and error a very efficient way of finding a treatment for anxiety and depression? No, not really. But what other alternative do you have?

In other words, don’t let passed failures at treatment make you feel like quitting is a good option or like you have to go on a hunt for a magic pill because both of those lines of thought will lead you nowhere.

Instead, try to be more realistic and accept that it’s going to be difficult work to solve this problem.

The fact is, no one just gets over abnormal anxiety and depression. It is a process that requires the help of medical professionals, experimentation, and patience.

Most importantly you gotta keep moving forward. Try not to dwell on what hasn’t worked, instead keep looking for what you think will turn the tide in your favor.

In my case, I relied on fish oil, exercise, and elements of cognitive behavioral therapy, that was my correct “mix.” And even though it may not be what helps you, you should keep up the search until you find what works.

I’ve also produced a new podcast to accompany this article and in it I add more details about treatment options and much more.

Press play to listen now.

The Fight Against Anxiety Goes Mobile!

As smartphone technology improves, so will the apps for these versatile devices. There are currently thousands of apps available for the iPhone and Android phone systems and their utility keeps growing by the second.

These apps can do everything, from showing you where the nearest restaurants are, all the way to helping you figure out the best deal on a new pair of shoes, as you shop!

In fact, there are now anti-anxiety apps as well, and today we’re going to tell you about one in particular called “At Ease.” Anxiety Guru contributor Bryan3000 recently purchased the “At Ease” app and wrote a review for those of you that own smartphones and might be interested in finding new ways of overcoming abnormal anxiety.

– Paul Dooley


App Review

“At Ease”
Created by: MeditationOasis.com
Price: $2.99
Purchased: iTunes App Store

There are a number of anxiety apps available for smartphone users. I use an iPhone, and have sampled quite a few. Quite honestly, most fall a bit short… but I thought At Ease was worth a review.

Concept:

Meditation Oasis is a website that offers free and pay options for users. I happen to be a big fan of their guided meditations, so I thought the app might be worth checking into.

The application predictably centers mostly around a meditative approach to quelling anxiety, but I wouldn’t let that dissuade you if you’re not currently practicing meditation. It features some handy tips outside of purely meditative teaching.

Using the App:

One of my favorite features of the app is that all of the pages feature recorded instructions, from the index to the guided breathing. So, Mary Maddox’ voice guides you through each step very clearly and concisely. Mary leads all guided meditation for the website. Her voice alone is calming, soothing and for me at least… provides almost instant relief from stress.

Starting from the index page, you’re given several options. These include guided breathing options, as well as “journaling” pages. The guided breathing options are what they sound like they would be. When you click this page, you get three choices of meditation to choose from.

They range from 9 to 12 minutes long. You also get three music options. Each meditation serves a slightly different purpose, but all aim to quell anxiety. The journaling pages are all equipped with recorded instructions and are aimed at allowing the user to get his/her thoughts and experiences recorded in a written format. This is for later use, but also for therapeutic reasons.

The guided meditations are excellent and it’s apparent to me that Mary and the folks who put this together really did their homework regarding anxiety and the proper approach, in my opinion. The premise behind the instruction given is not just accurate in the meditative tradition, it echos some of the core fundamentals of CBT and other well accepted anxiety therapy techniques. The music is composed by Richard Maddux, Mary’s husband and is excellent for these kinds of meditations.

My suggestions for improving this app would revolve around the journaling option. While I think it’s a great idea, it could be expanded to allow for multiple entries, (pages) or even a calendar. Also, it might be technically challenging to implement, but what about voice-journaling?

People with anxiety need things made simple. Improving and expanding the journaling option could really make a big difference to the effectiveness of this app. Beyond that, while the meditations are great… there are only three, and all are relatively short.

Considering that over 20 long-form free meditations are available at their website, it would seem that a pay-app might feature a bit more exclusive content. On the technical side, implementing some fades on the music tracks as they run out would be a nice touch as well.

Overall, this is a nicely done app. It was well thought out, and I really think if used as intended… could be another good tool in the arsenal against anxiety. While a few things could be improved, keep in mind that this is a $2.99 application. It’s well worth that and probably more. I hope we see the folks at Meditation Oasis release more apps of this nature, as well as future upgrades.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5.00 stars.

How to Cure Abnormal Anxiety

flowchart

Some time ago, you set out on a journey to cure your abnormal anxiety. And up to this point that journey has been a miserable failure.

But that’s not your fault. It just takes time. It takes time to find the thing that’s keeping you anxious.

Today, I want to help you bring your long  journey to an end.

So to start, let’s go way back. Back to when this all got started. Do you remember your first panic attack? And what about those long days filled with nervousness? I know I do.

During those early days chances are that you were experiencing everything on a physical and emotional level. And as time marched on you also fell into a never-ending spiral of  worry, fear, and frustration that’s made your life harder than it needs to be.

I know because the same thing happened to me. But I’m a thousand times better now and it’s because I figured out what was keeping me anxious.

And while I don’t claim to know everything about healing anxiety, I can vouch for what I’m about to tell you because it changed my life.

Since the day that you became ill you’ve probably been focused mostly on the effects of anxiety, like panic and whatnot. And who could blame you? After all, it seems almost impossible to ignore all the strange symptoms that anxiety throws at you doesn’t it?

But maybe, just maybe, it’s not about physical symptoms at all. In fact, I know it’s not. What is important is undoing the thing that gives life to your abnormal anxiety.

That’s the ticket.

If you want to cure abnormal anxiety and see the old you again, you’ll have to address the engine driving your anxiety and not just the visible results.

Luckily, you don’t have to dig into your childhood or anything to find the answer. Actually, the driving force behind much of your anxiety problem isn’t a mystery at all. It’s simply this:

Your beliefs.

It’s your beliefs that keep you in a state of anxiety.

The good news is that you can change your beliefs and in the process destroy the abnormal anxiety that keeps you chained to fear.

As you can see in the illustration above, everything flows from what you believe. Everything from how you see things, all the way down to how you act them out, is largely tied to what you believe.

So that if you believe that anxiety is dangerous to you either psychologically or physically then you will, in fact, live in a state of fear because you’ll always be expecting bad things to happen.

And as you wait, your self-confidence, sense of security, and your sense of well-being all get eroded over time.

Let me paint you a picture of  how this all works.

If you believe that anxiety is dangerous then you will see everything related to anxiety as a threat. From the time that you adopt this false belief onward, every time you experience anxiety you’ll think that it will lead to disaster, insanity, or death. And this does nothing else except reinforce the idea that anxiety is something to fear.

Once that happens, you begin to expect anxiety, negative thoughts, anxiety symptoms, and so on. This in turn makes you worry, which leads to more anxiety, depression, and perhaps even obsession.

But the weirdness doesn’t stop there, because when your emotions get  filtered by anxiety then your behavior also starts to change, sometimes without you even knowing it!

You stop doing things you used to like, avoid certain places, and in the process get locked into your own little world of self-pity and despair. That’s the chain of events that has turned you into who you are at the moment.

But that’s no surprise given that anxiety disorder — especially in its early stages — is almost always a full body, fast acting, visceral, and confusing condition.

The problem is that a lot of people get so shocked by this initial phase that they stay shocked.

The key to throwing anxiety off your back is to get away from the shock and your instinctual gut reactions to anxiety symptoms, and into logical patterns of thinking to help you dissolve the power of your anxiety.

That’s the key. Knowing that  it’s not anxiety symptoms causing your trouble, at least for the most part. It’s your anxious thoughts that are responsible for your misery.

Thoughts that have been rinsed in the waters of your negative beliefs. Beliefs that are likely filled with misconceptions that have kept you from having peace of mind.

So, how do you change your beliefs in regard to anxiety? Glad you asked.

First, it’s helpful to understand that although it’s your beliefs that are keeping you in state of anxiety, it will be by changing your beliefs AND your interpretations, expectations, emotions, and behavior that you’ll reach recovery.

In other words, don’t think that changing your beliefs alone is enough. It won’t work that way because your beliefs are intertwined with your expectations and your behavior in such a way that it would be hard to disconnect and mold your beliefs separately.

But as you change your beliefs about anxiety, you’ll naturally start to deal with the other issues I mentioned precisely because they’re so closely related.

Of course, to get this all going you gotta do a little work. So let me describe the three things that worked for me and then you can decide how to approach your own situation.

1. Relax

The first thing I did was to relax. I did this through semi-hardcore exercise. I was going to the gym 4-5 days a week and working out for about an hour at a time. I think you understand the benefits of exercise so I won’t explain what they are here. It’s just good for you, real good.

Try to do it any way you can 3-4 times a week. You can also relax through yoga, mediation, deep breathing, or even by using medications prescribed by a medical doctor.

This bit is important because if you’re not relaxed you’re going to keep getting distracted by your symptoms and general feelings of nervousness. So just find a way to relax, even if it’s just a tiny bit at first.

2. Accept

If you ever want to get better you’ll have to accept everything about your anxiety episodes. Don’t cheat yourself and say that you accept everything about your crazy thoughts, weird phobias, or scary physical sensations just to tense up when they happen again. If you do then you’re only cheating yourself and no one else.

To accept means to let go and float. To realize and accept that chest pain is going to happen, palpitations, outrageous thoughts, sometimes just plain bizarre things will happen. But it’s o.k., really it is, because anxiety won’t kill you.

Another important part of learning how to accept was for me to stop assuming. I stopped trying to guess what was going to happen to me, which was great because it turns out that I’m not psychic. I was always wrong about what I thought was going to happen to me. I soon realized that there’s no point in living anywhere else but the present.

3. Learn

To change your beliefs the most important thing you’ll need to do is to educate yourself. I found that learning about the autonomic nervous system, the fight or flight response, assumption, anxiety, the neurotic paradox, cognitive behavioral therapy, adrenaline, and acceptance was my key to freedom.

Learn about the things I listed in great detail. Buy or borrow books, go online, do research, immerse yourself. At the end of it you’ll be empowered and have a basis for alternative thoughts that can be used to replace your anxious ones.

Final thoughts

The other thing is that sometimes people get addicted to anxiety. It becomes a poisonous habit that leads them to online symptoms checkers, self-pity forums, and chats with people who enjoy chasing their own tail.

Don’t be like that. Don’t act like a victim that can’t help themselves. That is completely and utterly not true. You can defeat abnormal anxiety if you want to. I did and I promise you that there isn’t anything special about me.

What I laid down here is the blueprint I developed and followed to destroy my own abnormal anxiety. Whether you use or not is up to you. But however you decide to deal with your abnormal anxiety, just make sure you try something.

Keeping in mind that if you change your beliefs — how you think — then you will be on your way to recovery.

One last thing, remember that if you don’t feel confident about learning all this on your own you can always consider seeing a therapist to help guide you.

P.S.

Don’t forget to listen to the podcast and comment below!

And if you want a detailed plan on how to change your beliefs check out my special report How to Stop Anxious Thinking.

anxiety symptoms

Is Marijuana Good for Anxiety?

Today I want to talk to you about pot.

But lest you think that I’m some closet stoner that wants to promote marijuana use. Trust me , this isn’t coming out of the blue. Paul Dooley just isn’t that spontaneous.

The whole marijuana thing is a pretty big issue right now in my home state of California. In recent mid-term elections a ballot measure called Proposition 19 (The marijuana legalization initiative) was defeated.

But Prop 19 wasn’t hammered into defeat  like you might imagine. Something like 46% of Californians voted in favor of legalizing marijuana. So, I thought, damn that means that pot will likely become legal in California, someday.

If that happens what’s the implication for the anxious person? The law abiding citizen who stayed clean all those years and could suddenly go to the corner store and pick up some bud? Should that person, should you, go to the store when it’s available as a way to deal with anxiety?

It’s an interesting question. Not only that, it’s really the fact that it even came up for a vote that was somewhat surprising. And add to that all the media hoopla surrounding this issue and that’s how this marijuana question came back into my field of view.

So, the real question is: Is Marijuana Good for Anxiety, whatever its legal status?

I had a contributor named Andy tackle this issue a while back and it stirred the pot (pun intended) for sure. There was a lot of back and forth then about whether it was a good idea for anxious people to smoke pot or not and I’m sure that’s still the case. It is by it’s very nature a polarizing question.

I did produce a podcast to answer this question in detail so I won’t rehash everything  here. I do however want to point out some highlights of what I think is true about marijuana and whether or not it’s good for anxiety.

The Good

Some strands of marijuana, specifically indica, have been known to relieve stress and anxiety.

Marijuana has also been known to be an effective pain reliever.

The Bad

Marijuana can cause hallucinations and make you paranoid.

And using any substance to help you cope with anxiety always has its drawbacks because essentially you’re using a crutch and not dealing with the issues that are keeping you anxious.

Plus, why add more problems to your life? There is the expense, possible legal issues, and you having to deal with shady characters from time to time.

My Take

If you know you’re prone to anxiety then I think smoking pot is a bad choice. Instead, try to learn as much as you can about anxiety, the fight or flight response, relaxation techniques, and CBT.

Personally I haven’t smoked pot for more than a decade. I was really just out of adolescence the last time I sparked up and I’m glad. I have no use for drugs, of any kind, to help me handle my anxiety.

But I will concede that some people are helped by pot and many other drugs, like antidepressants for example. So I think you should do whatever works for you as long as it’s safe and effective.

So, what do you think about all this? Is marijuana good for anxiety? If it became legal would that make you a more likely user? Give us your brilliant opinion below.

anxiety symptoms

 

 

Try This One-Two Punch Combo to Knock Out Your Anxiety

Knocking Out the Large Competition

If anxiety hasn’t made you think you’re crazy yet, then trying to find effective ways to kill it will. It is frustrating to have to spend so much time locating books, CD’s, or other products that can deliver on what they promise when it comes to getting rid of anxiety but, if you can find a decent anti-anxiety tool that combines two ways of delivering it’s message, then you’ve got a winner.

I’ve said the following in blog posts, eBooks, podcasts, kitchen table conversations and everywhere in between: In order to win your fight against anxiety you have to learn ways to undue anxious thoughts and repeat what you learn.

The problem is that people give up too easily, they quit. They get a sudden pang of anxiety and only try to solve their problem as long as the intense anxiety is around. After that, most take a wait and see attitude, which doesn’t work.

Whether you’re in the midst of severe anxiety, or just slightly nervous, you have to continuously work toward your goal of being anxiety free. There is no such thing as an easy solution to this problem, that is a fact.

One of the best ways to ensure that you knock out your anxiety cold is to use audio AND text based solutions at the same time. This one-two punch will drill the information into your subconscious mind and help you to replace all the anxiety filled thoughts that swirl around in your head.

A perfect example of how this approach to learning works can be found in any school. The first part of the day students are asked to come to class and listen to lecture. This is the audio portion of your learning experience. Obviously all of your senses are involved in this process, but your ears are doing most of the work. Teacher talks, you listen.

Auditory learning is passive and allows you to relax while you learn. And even if you think the information isn’t seeping into your brain matter, it is. Slowly but surely the information you’re passively receiving is absorbed and stored in your mind.

After school, students are expected to go home and do self-study by readings books, which is a more intensive form of learning which engages your mind. This is where you read, re-read, think and repeat the process until you “get it.”

Using audio and text based tools together is an effective way to hammer home the information you need to internalize. Audio can be listened to while you relax in bed, on the couch, at work, school or wherever. You then follow up with a book or manual that repeats the same information to help immerse your mind in the lesson.

It’s this two channel stream of information that is making your brain work to tie things together because the different bits of information are twisted and combined to form a much more potent means of learning than any one method alone can provide.

With this strategy you can jab your anxiety steadily until one day you’ll be able to throw a devastating haymaker and drop it to the floor. This is how it’s done: With good information pounded into your brain repeatedly over time.

Let me recommend two ways you can do this.

The first way, is the way that I first used. More than three years ago I randomly bought a book and CD from Amazon about how to fight anxiety – most of you familiar with this blog know what they are – Dr. Claire Weeke’s book Hope and Help for Your Nerves and her CD, Pass Through Panic.

I would listen to her CD in my car on the way to and from work, and would read her book at home. I did this routine for weeks. I used both tools over and over until her message sank in to my thick skull. I could recite lines from her work verbatim, and til this day her message of acceptance and perseverance is still with me.

The second solution I want to tell you about was created by my friend Alex Taylor. It’s called Instant Panic Relief. This is the one-two punch combo that will work to either reduce or get rid of your anxiety forever.

I know that this program can do this for two reasons. First, I reviewed Alex’s program for several weeks and right away I could tell that Alex had spent a tremendous amount of time and energy putting this program together and created something of value in the process.

The second reason boils down to one word – depth. In her work Dr. Weekes does an excellent job of explaining the problem and it’s basic solution, but she doesn’t go as far as offering techniques to solve your problem with any detail. She is clear and general, where Alex is specific and detailed.

Both approaches have their merits, but Alex goes all out. He does this with a three week audio course that also explains the basics, but takes it further by teaching you the root cause of fear, how to stop panic attacks, and he shows you how to mold yourself into a new you, all with step by step instructions.

Instant Panic Relief comes with audio recordings of the entire program, plus a 160 page handbook to reinforce what you’ve learned. And he didn’t stop there, Alex will also give you tons of free bonus material that includes additional audio recordings like “When Panic Attacks,” which is designed to be listened to while you’re having a panic attack to help you end it fast.

Alex suffered with severe anxiety for over 17 years, and in that time he developed unique methods to master his anxiety. He can teach you those methods in this easy to understand program.

The problem with a lot of other anti-anxiety programs is that most of them either don’t work, or are super expensive. Dr. Weekes and Alex Taylor both provide effective methods to knock out your anxiety at a reasonable price.

Whatever combination you decide to use, try this audio + text format. I think you’ll gain a lot more from your efforts to eliminate your anxiety if you do. Don’t lay back and think that this problem will go away on its own because I promise that it won’t.

You might get relief every now and then, but like a starved pit bull, anxiety has a way of latching on and not letting go. So, be aggressive in your efforts to be anxiety free and double your chances of success by using audio and text based solutions at the same time.

Instant Panic Relief - Click Here

How to Pick the Right Anxiety Medication

Somehow, after 10 years of living with anxiety, I’ve managed to stay off of medication.  But, for better or for worse, that’s not the case for most people with anxiety and depression.

In fact, researchers believe that up to 10% – or about 30 million people – in the United States alone use an antidepressant. There are also millions more around the world that use antidepressants, beta blockers, sedatives and sometimes even a combination of these drugs to help themselves them cope with their anxiety and depression symptoms.

Many of you are probably well versed in anti-anxiety drug types, brand names, dosages, etc. So this post is really aimed at those of you that don’t have a clue about these drugs; are on the fence about trying a new drug, or for those taking a drug that’s just not doing anything for you.

So, let’s review your options.

When it comes to treating anxiety disorder you have three basic choices.

Anxiety Meds

Antidepressants – Perhaps the most widely prescribed and consumed “happy pill” on the planet. The term antidepressants is kind of a misnomer, because antidepressants are actually a category of drug, and not just a drug. So, there are more than one kind and they all work differently.

For example, MAOI’s are a potent antidepressant that regulate MAOI’s (enzymes that effect neurotransmitters) so that they don’t get too high or too low thus preventing neurological problems.

There are also SSRI’s, TCA’s, and SNRI’s. These drugs all act on or effect the brains chemical messengers, called neurotransmitters. Researchers believe that when these brain chemicals (like serotonin) are out of whack it can cause anxiety or episodes of depression. These drugs are meant to correct the imbalance of these “brain juices.”

Type: Mood enhancer.

Side effects: Nausea, weight gain, sexual side effects, fatigue, insomnia, dry mouth, blurred vision, agitation, anxiety, disturbing thoughts.

Examples:

SSRI’s – Zoloft, Prozac, Paxil, Celexa, Lexapro.

SNRI’s – Cymbalta, Effexor, Pristiq.

TCA’s – Surmon, Pamelor, Tofranil, Norpramin, Elavil.

Beta Blockers – These drugs are generally used by cardiac patients, but they are also prescribed for anxiety. Unlike antidepressants, these drugs are meant to calm anxiety symptoms like palpitations, sweating, fast breathing – basically panic symptoms. They also lower your heart rate.

Type: Symptom suppressor.

Side effects: fatigue, cold hands, dizziness, weakness, shortness of breath, insomnia, depression.

Examples: Coreg, Sectral, Tenormin, Bystolic, Corgard, Zebeta, Bisoprolol.

Benzodiazepine – When you think “benzo” think Valium. This is a sedative drug, meant to relax muscles, reduce anxiety, and probably put you to sleep. As the video I included pointed out, these drugs can be addictive, so in general they are only prescribed for short periods of time.

Type: Sedative.

Side effects:drowsiness, dizziness, blurred vision, headache, confusion, depression, weakness, change in heart rate.

Depending on what ails you – it’s possible to pick a med that acts on your main problem specifically. Say, for example, that you have frequent panic attacks or you get uneasy in social settings. In this case, a beta blocker could be a good choice because it calms physical symptoms.

If on the other hand, you have trouble relaxing or sleeping, then a benzodiazepine may be a good call.

And if you have depression, constant anxiety, and disturbing thoughts (like suicide), then an antidepressant may help you.

There are three main things to keep in mind when deciding on what drug to use or when deciding if drugs are even something you want to try.

  • Make sure that you talk to your doctor. That is, don’t just walk in there and take whatever is given to you. Also, don’t insist on a drug you’re not sure about. Get informed, then ask questions and make the decision with your doctor.
  • Beware of all side effects and possible reactions with other medications you’re taking.
  • Understand that drugs will not cure you. Sometimes we all have difficult moments and hope for a miracle; but this is not what drugs are. They can provide the short-term relief you need as you seek therapy or other means of healing yourself. Ultimately, drugs only mask your symptoms, they don’t make anything go away indefinitely.

Personally I don’t take drugs because I feel that in my case they are not necessary. For me, the risks outweigh the benefits. But for you the situation could be totally different.

I think that as long as you’re well informed, have a good doctor, and a plan, you should be fine. Don’t feel guilty or weak for having to take medication. By the same token, don’t let others pressure you into taking drugs that you may not need or want.

The issue of whether drugs are helpful in the treatment of anxiety and depression is under some debate.  But – as of today – the consensus is that drugs are helpful.  In the medical community, for example, anti-anxiety drugs are widely seen (and used) as an effective treatment for anxiety disorder. Keep in mind that drugs can be dangerous, but they can also be a lifesaver. I’m not an anti-drug zealot, all I’ve ever said is that you should do what works and what’s safe.


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Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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What Everybody Ought to Know About Depression Self-Help

As you traverse the confusing landscape of anxiety you will likely come upon it’s alter ego depression . In many respects anxiety and depression are different sides of the same coin since both have the capacity to tangle your emotions and leave you feeling utterly hopeless.  Luckily like anxiety, depression tends to also respond well to treatment efforts like self help techniques designed to combat depression.

In my view the goal of most types of therapy for depression and other thinking disorders is not only to reveal the root of your problem, but also to impart the skills you will need to cope and heal on your own.  This is precisely why self-help for depression is so effective. It begins with the premise that you are able to literally help yourself and it provides the necessary skill set to instill confidence in your ability to improve your own life.  Here are some of the best ways you can do just that.

Communication:

Not all depression self-help depends on tackling emotional issues all by yourself.  One of the most effective self-help techniques you can apply is communicating openly with others.  This is not to say that you want to pronounce to the world that you’re depressed, but rather sharing your feelings and thoughts with trusted individuals.  Communicating with others does not have to be a pity party either.  Ultimately expressing yourself to others can do a lot to bring you comfort, confidence, and bring you out of isolation.

Stay Active:

When you experience depression you may not only feel sad but you may also not want to do anything or see anyone.  In some cases people suffering from depression don’t even leave their beds in the morning as they find it difficult to find a reason to do so.  Nonetheless, staying active is a critical part of any depression self-help program.  Staying active also means more than finding busy work to do.  It’s about doing things you enjoy and staying in touch with what makes you happy.

Challenge Negative Thinking:

When depression strikes you may find yourself in a cycle of self hatred and negativity.  Negative thoughts about failure, feelings of worthlessness, and despair are very common in depression.  When these thoughts occur it is imperative that you challenge them.  Don’t accept your negative self talk as the normal state of affairs.  You must analyze your thoughts and ask yourself direct questions about your negative thoughts.  Ask yourself things like is this thought realistic?  Am I exaggerating in any way?  What really is the worst that could happen?  By asking yourself these types of questions you are likely to reveal a more accurate picture of where you are emotionally and psychologically.

Patience:

Although it is easy to get frustrated with having depression the reality is that it will take time to heal.  If you were to sprain your ankle you would not expect to get better for several weeks right?  Well the mind, like the body, can be injured and will take some time to heal.  Depression is no different in this respect.  So don’t feel rushed or panicked about being depressed.  With patience and time you can improve and return to your old self again.

Exercise:

Exercise is perhaps one of the best forms of self-help there is for depression.  And as long as you do it on a regular basis for at least 30 minutes at a time you will see great results.  Finding the time and motivation for exercise can be challenging, but I can assure you that if you make a commitment to develop an exercise program and stick with it you will heal at an incredible rate.

The list above is not meant to be exhaustive.  These are just a few techniques that you can use to begin your self-help efforts.  The most important thing you should know about depression self-help however is that it can work.  It can feel overwhelming to think that you could possibly do anything to remove what feels like tons of weight from your shoulders.  And truthfully it’s OK to feel this way as long as you make a decision to treat your depression.  You also have to remember that your not alone in all this.  There are many resources available for depression help like healthcoach.myselfhelp.com and other internet resources that can provide you with guidance and detailed information about how to begin your journey of healing.

Also keep in mind that your rate of recovery and recovery itself depend on you and the things you do to get better.  Depression usually does not just fall out of the sky one day.  It can take a long time to develop depression and just as long to undue all the horrible feelings and thoughts associated with depression. Just  remember that it can be done.

Do Prozac, Zoloft, And Paxil Really Work?

The issue of whether or not anxiety and depression sufferers should take medication is a hot button issue that I love to press.  As many of you know I don’t take meds and I never have.  I will say that drugs like Paxil and Zoloft do help some people and I won’t and have not denied this.  However, I would like to point out that those of us who use these drugs and others like them should be more aware of their benefits and drawbacks than we currently are.  It just doesn’t make sense not to be as informed as humanly possible when it comes to this important topic.

Recently I came across an excellent expose by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation or CBC about drugs used to treat anxiety disorders, depression and other mental ailments.  I found this particular series broken up into 5 short youtube videos.  In addition I’ve added a video of an ex-pharmaceutical sales person that experienced her own personal hell with antidepressants.

This post and others like it that I’ve written are meant to high light the potential risks of these drugs and really nothing else.  In other words, I take no moral high ground and I’m not saying not to take medication if you and your doctor have agreed that it’s the best course of action for you.

My only goal is to have my readers be as informed as they can be.  In my experience many of these drugs are prescribed much too easily and therefore may not benefit all and might even cause harm to some.  This is a reality that we should all face and not shrink from.  I understand that not all people will be helped by breathing exercises and fish oil pills, but that doesn’t mean that we all shouldn’t be prudent about treating our anxiety disorder and or depression.

Paxil and other drugs like it can be extremely dangerous and just because it helps some people we should never forget that they also have the capacity to inflict a great deal of harm.  It’s not just the slim chance of suicide either, but also less diabolical effects like life long drug dependency that are of concern as well.

In the end do what you have to do under proper medical supervision to help yourself live a better life.  All I want to convey is that caution and information should be our guides when it comes to these drugs.  Sometimes what we need is more love, freedom, phyiscal activity, better diets, more friends, less stress and so on.  Other times maybe a drug is appropriate but only if you are fully aware of both the up and down sides.

You probably already noticed that I have repeated the idea that it’s alright to take meds if you need it.  That’s because I always (never fails) get contacted by an angry person that has been helped by Paxil or some other drug.  I’d like to avoid that so I pounded this point to make it oh so very clear.

Personally I don’t take any drugs for anxiety or depression because I have misgivings about the down sides to these drugs, especially the dependence part.  I don’t like to suffer either, but I feel that I function rather well without them.  I have my trials and dark days like all of you do but I keep moving forward with natural coping tools and have a normal life 80% of the time.  I just feel strongly about helping people understand the truth about anxiety disorders and living an anxious life.  Just remember to never stop learning because ultimately this is how you will finally learn the proper way to help yourself.